Table Talk : ARMM OIC Gov. Mujiv Hataman is ghost buster PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 14 September 2012 14:25

BY Mike S Apostol

Revealing the existence of many “ghost” projects, employees and even construction companies, etc. to the Senate Finance Committee, headed by Senator Franklin Drilon during their 2013 budget hearing, OIC Governor Mujiv Hataman earned the honor of being named ghost buster. Because of this revelation, Senate finance Committee Chairman Drilon unanimously approved ARMM’s 2013 annual budget of P13.998 billion. This multi-billion pesos will be used to fund the operation of the five ARMM provinces namely, Basilan, Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
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According to news reports, billion of pesos of public funds are lost annually to these ghost entities in the ARMM and this anomalous ghost transactions, from salaries, employees, deliveries and spurious suppliers and constructors, are allegedly pocketed by some ARMM officials. Gov. Hataman also put an end to logging and made no distinction between natural forest logs and cultivated logs. Millions of pesos of public funds were saved upon the discovery of these “ghost” entities.
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My friend OIC Governor Hataman, who was a former AMIN party List representative in Congress, we used to frequently meet at the Mabuhay Lounge when Table Talk was a Commissioner of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). In fact, from Governor Hataman’s Congressional Development Fund, he funded the construction of NCIP’s Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay office worth almost P2 million and many other donations. We used to meet by coincidence in Zamboanga Del Sur, Del Norte and Sibugay,where he monitored his projects and myself for meetings, dialogues and consultations with the many IP’s in the province.
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Table Talk has been to many budget hearings, both in Congress and Senate,  in defense of our Commission’s annual budget. What surprised me is how OIC Governor Mujiv Hataman was able to convince the government of a multi-billion budget for five provinces, when other line agencies, like NCIP, that is under the Office of the President and have offices throughout the country, in cities, provinces and regions and some municipalities have a hard time in requesting the government of a billion peso annual budget. For example, in 2011, for our 2012 budget, we were requesting for a P1.6 billion annual budget to fund projects and other assistance to the millions of IP’s in the country. However the government slashed it down to only almost P700 million, reasoning that budgets for projects can be coursed to other Departments like DPWH, DSWD, DA and other concerned departments. There will be no filling up of “plantilla” or temporary and casual positions for that year while the “standardization” scheme of positions is pending approval     
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What surprises us also is that Senator Drilon even announced that 10% or at least P10 billion of the ARMM budget will solely be for employee salaries. ARMM is indeed fortunate to have such budget and if OIC Governor Hataman will continue his “ghost buster” advocacy and transparency in all transactions of the ARMM and eliminate corruption, these five provinces under the ARMM will be very prosperous and progressive area and ultimate stop lawlessness and the idea of secessionism because the only reason why lawless elements are fighting the government is poverty. Can Governor Hataman do it, now that he has a multi-billion pesos budget at his disposal?  We pray that he will, so peace will once again reign in Mindanao.
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Scoop: It is high time that the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of cities, provinces and municipalities in the ARMM and other areas of Mindanao will be treated as budget for development and not as personal funds for personal expenditures, especially now that election is almost here. Agree or disagree.